The top water conservation stories this year included the continued severe drought in the southwestern United States, a water crisis in cities like São Paulo, and unprecedented fines in California for individuals caught wasting water. Here is a selection of some of the top water conservation stories of 2014.

Tap Shaped Water Saving Concept Word Cloud

What Will it Take to End California’s Drought? 11 Trillion Gallons of Rain CBS

“A new analysis from NASA satellite data concluded that the state would need 11 trillion gallons of water to recover from its three-year dry spell.”

Colorado River Groundwater Disappearing at “Shocking” Rate CBS News

“Since December 2004, the basin of the Colorado River lost nearly 53 million acre feet (65 cubic kilometers) of freshwater, almost double the volume of the region’s largest reservoir, Nevada’s Lake Mead.”

São Paulo’s Water Crisis: Reservoir Hogs Economist

“The Cantareira reservoir system, on which 6.5m people depend, is down to 7.1% of its capacity. At this time in 2013 it was half-full.”

Water Conservation Efforts Pay Off: U.S. Usage Lowest in Decades LA Times

“Overall in the U.S., about 355 billion gallons of groundwater and surface water were used per day in 2010, compared with 410 billion a day in 2005.”

Study: Southwest May Face ‘Megadrought’ Within Century Cornell University

“Due to global warming, scientists say, the chances of the southwestern United States experiencing a decade long drought is at least 50 percent, and the chances of a “megadrought” – one that lasts up to 35 years – ranges from 20 to 50 percent over the next century.”

States in Parched Southwest Take Steps to Bolster Lake Mead The New York Times

“Officials from water agencies in Arizona, California and Nevada signed an agreement last week to jointly add as much as three million acre-feet of water to Lake Mead by 2020.”

California Imposes Unprecedented Water Conservation Rules

“Activities like using a hose to wash a car without a shut-off nozzle or using drinkable water in certain decorative water features will be banned, while infractions will carry fines of up to $500.”

Can California Conserve Its Way Through Drought? National Geographic

“If farmers adopt the latest efficient technologies, such as drip irrigation and precise irrigation scheduling, they could slash water use by 17 to 22 percent.”

Worldwide Water Shortage by 2040 Science Daily

“Three years of research show that by the year 2040 there will not be enough water in the world to quench the thirst of the world population and keep the current energy and power solutions going if we continue doing what we are doing today.”

In the Wake of Toledo, We Need Innovations to Prevent a World Water Crisis The Washington Post

“For more than 48 hours, the 400,000 citizens of Toledo, Ohio were told not to drink their tap water out of fear that dangerous toxins from algae blooms in Lake Erie may have contaminated the water supplies.”

Study: Bay Area Loses Billions of Water to Leaky Pipes

“The San Jose Mercury News reports that Bay Area water agencies have lost from 3 to 16 percent of their treated water due to damaged underground pipes. The bad pipes have leaked enough water annually to meet the needs of 71,000 families for an entire year.”

Americans Use Twice as Much Water as they Think They Do, Study Says LA Times

“Americans underestimated their water use by a factor of 2, and were only slightly aware of how much water goes into growing the food they eat.”

Gulp: The Lake That Supplies Vegas With Most of Its Water Is Now at Record-Low Levels Slate

“According to Bureau of Reclamation data as of June 2, there’s never been so little water behind Hoover Dam since its construction in the 1930s.”

As Oklahoma Drought Continues, Farmers Prepare For Losses NPR

“Wheat is Oklahoma’s number one crop. In a good year, the state produces 120 to 140 million bushels. The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts this year’s crop will be half as big.”

Los Angeles, City of Water New York Times

“The city now consumes less water than it did in 1970, while its population has grown by more than a third, to 3.9 million people from 2.8 million.”

Making Water Conservation Pay Project Syndicate

“Every day, the world’s largest 100 cities move 3.2 million cubic meters of water more than 5,700 kilometers to address local water shortages or problems with pollution.”

Abu Dhabi to Recycle 100% of Waste Water Within 3 years Gulf News

“The plan follows the successful model in Al Ain, which has become the first city in the country to reuse 100 percent of recycled water.”

San Diego Approves $3.5B Recycled Water Project NBC San Diego

“Experts say it’ll likely exceed current water quality standards – while supplying about a third of the city’s daily needs and saving big bucks on wastewater treatment costs.”